Phoenix Open weekend has a reputation for being rowdy and this year was no different…except it had nothing to do with the fans. We had rules controversies, a Sergio meltdown and DQ, Johnny’s final goodbye, and a Rickie Fowler roller coaster victory. There is never a dull moment in the world of golf (wink).
Rickie Fowler rolled in a four-foot par putt for a two-shot victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
It’s a fairly innocuous statement by itself, but the 17 holes prior were an absolute whirlwind. It started with the weather as the warmth of the first three days melted away into a wet and windy final round. Rickie started the day with a four-shot lead and, despite uninspiring play, stood on the 11th tee with a five-shot margin. He then chipped it into the water, dropped it into the water, and fell one shot behind Branden Grace on the 12th hole. Rickie birdied 15 and 17 while Grace bogied the 17th and was able to par the 18th for the victory.
It has been VERY well documented that Fowler is notoriously poor at closing out tournaments. This is only his fifth victory of his career despite the numerous times he has been in contention. His consistency is something to be admired, but you know this victory meant a lot to him. WMPO Leaderboard
Not so Graceful
Branden Grace was seemingly going to be the beneficiary of Rickie’s final round troubles but ended up two shots behind the Orangeman. He was in great position on the 17th tee, but instead of making birdie on the drivable par 4, he drove it into the water and then bladed a chip over the green. Grace had a down year in 2018 and dropped to 49th in the world. He’ll jump back inside the top 40 after this week and looks to be in better shape heading into the 2019 season.
On Friday, Denny McCarthy was docked two shots after his caddie stood behind him while he took some practice swings on a pitch shot. His caddie moved away, and McCarthy continued his pre-shot routine, stepping away from the ball and resetting. The PGA Tour assessed a penalty, deeming his caddie lined him up thanks to the new USGA rules. The penalty sent the golf world into an uproar, and the PGA Tour issued a statement on Saturday afternoon rescinding the penalty. Thankfully, after back-to-back weekends with controversy, they are working with the USGA and R&A to rework rule 10.2. Read the full statement HERE
Other Leaderboard Notes
Justin Thomas entered the weekend tied for the lead with Fowler but fell five shots back after Saturday’s round. He stayed in the final group and finished 3rd on Sunday.
Honorary Mayor of Scottsdale Chez Reavie shot 132 on the weekend to jump up into a tie for 4th. This makes the second straight year that Shea finished inside the top 4 at the WMPO.
Oklahoma State’s Matt Wolff finished the tournament at -3 and tied for 55th place. Wolff started the tournament with a 67 but followed it up with rounds of 70-72-72.
Dustin Johnson (remember him?) shot a final-round 67 to win the Saudi Invitational on Sunday. DJ won a very casual three events last season but fell to #3 in the world behind Koepka and Rose. He jumped to the lead on Friday with a second-round 61 and closed with a 67 to win by two over Haotong Li. Tom Lewis, Min Woo Lee, and Alexander Levy rounded out the top 5. Lee is a newly-turned pro at 20 years old and is primed for a great career. He has a phenomenal golf swing and can hit it a country mile.
Outside of the obvious moral considerations that surrounded this event, the main story turned out to be Sergio Garcia. Americans woke up on Saturday morning to the news that Sergio was disqualified for detrimental conduct. It turned out that the 2017 Masters champion took out his frustration with the quality of the putting surfaces by damaging 5 greens. There does not seem to be video of the incidents, but here is the full breakdown of the situation. To think of a 39-year-old man so enraged he damaged five greens is disturbing. For some real life context, imagine going into your office tomorrow and destroying 5 desks. Leaderboard
Mark Anderson converted his 54-hole lead to win the Country Club de Bogota Championship on the Web.com Tour. Leaderboard
Akshay Bhatia won the rain-shortened Jones Cup this weekend. He’s on the short list for the Walker Cup this fall. Leaderboard
Johnny Miller signed off for the final time on Saturday afternoon. Paul Azinger will be in the booth for NBC for the foreseeable future.
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Shotgun Start: Rickie hangs on, Sergio snaps in Saudi Arabia, and another rules fiasco
Brendan and Andy return from the weekend and the content bounty is plentiful. They react first to Rickie Fowler’s win at the Phoenix Open, where he hung on during a day of ugly play all over the course. They assess what it might mean for the future and whether his underwhelming play on Sunday does anything to bury the narrative that he has trouble closing. Then they get to Sergio Garcia’s shameful weekend in Saudi Arabia, where he damaged at least five greens during a temper tantrum unprecedented at the highest pro level. They discuss what the punishment should be for Sergio and why the tapes and story have been buried. Other topics hit are Pat Reed’s bizarre honorary lifetime membership from the European Tour, the alignment rule fiasco and the rescinding of Denny McCarthy’s penalty, and Johnny Miller’s farewell broadcast. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify